February 2018

Even in the dead of winter, the Great Lakes teem with life. Snowy owls swoop south to roost in unexpected places. Ice fishing shanties spring up overnight. Hardy folks don skis and snowshoes to explore familiar landscapes in new ways.

Michigan Sea Grant doesn’t hibernate, either. We’re hard at work preparing for upcoming workshops, camps, presentations, conferences, publications, and a brand-new website. Keep reading for a peek at some of our latest work.

Michigan Sea Grant welcomes new Extension educator to Saginaw Bay region

Meaghan Gass works with students from Ella White Elementary School in Alpena. Photo: Courtesy photo

Meaghan Gass has joined Michigan Sea Grant and MSU Extension as an educator located in the Saginaw Bay region. She is no stranger to Michigan, having spent the last three years with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (NEMIGLSI), first as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member and then on staff as the network coordinator based in Alpena. She will provide services in five counties, including Arenac, Bay, Tuscola, Huron, and Sanilac.

Meaghan will divide her time between offices in Standish and Bay City.

“Through my work with the NEMIGLSI network, I partnered closely with Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant. Seeing what they are able to accomplish in Michigan is exciting,” says Meaghan. “I also learned more about what the Sea Grant network is doing across the Great Lakes. Engaging a variety of stakeholders and connecting Great Lakes research with communities are huge passions of mine, and I am excited these strategies are at the heart of Sea Grant’s mission.”

Meaghan is looking forward to building connections with individuals and groups in the area. “We need to work together to ensure protection of the Great Lakes. Collaboration is key. I’m really excited to have this opportunity and look forward to what we can achieve in the Bay area.”

“Meaghan will be an excellent addition to our Sea Grant team,” says Heather Triezenberg, Michigan Sea Grant Extension program coordinator. “We’re excited that she will continue the work we’ve been doing in that region to address Great Lakes, Lake Huron, and Saginaw Bay issues.”

Meaghan grew up in southern Illinois but loves living in northeast Michigan. She enjoys outdoor activities, and for fun, she also competes on a roller derby team under the name Unicorn Queen. As an undergraduate student, she majored in political science and French and minored in Spanish. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Illinois State University and her master’s degree in political science from St. Louis University. Her research focused on water and river basin governance.

Meaghan will divide her time between two offices, spending two days a week in Standish and three in Bay City.

Contact information:
Email: gassmeag@msu.edu
Cellphone: (618) 567-4193

MSU Extension Arenac County office:
120 North Grove Street
P.O. Box 745
Standish, MI 48658
Phone: (989) 846-4111 ext. 9032

MSU Extension Bay County office:
515 Center Avenue, Suite G-102
Bay City, MI 48708
Phone: (989) 895-4026 ext. 5

NOAA scientist wins Van Snider Award

George Leshkevich and Michigan Sea Grant Director Jim Diana at the 2018 Great Lakes Bowl. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to present the 2017 Van Snider Award to NOAA scientist George Leshkevich. The Van Snider award recognizes individuals who exemplify what it means to be a partner and friend of Michigan Sea Grant.

After nearly 45 years of federal service, George is retiring from the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). In addition to his outstanding science career, he has been the longstanding manager of the Great Lakes CoastWatch Program.

For more than 30 years, Michigan Sea Grant has partnered with NOAA GLERL and George to make CoastWatch data available for recreational, charter, and commercial anglers through the Michigan Sea Grant CoastWatch website. Anglers use CoastWatch data to take safer fishing trips, optimize fuel use, and choose strategic fishing locations, so their time spent fishing on the Great Lakes is successful and enjoyable. Swimmers, emergency personnel, educators, and students also use CoastWatch data to better understand our Great Lakes. George has also been a strong supporter of the Great Lakes Ocean Sciences Bowl, having volunteered for the very first bowl and been a science judge and mentor on nearly every event since then.

“George has been a tireless supporter of the Great Lakes through his research as well as providing information to the public on conditions and safety in the lakes. His legacy will live on in the CoastWatch website, which we hope to upgrade in the near future.”

We thank George for being a longstanding partner of Michigan Sea Grant and wish him well in retirement.

Michigan Sea Grant featured in state status update

Michigan Sea Grant is pleased to see several familiar faces and programs in the latest Michigan State of the Great Lakes 2017 report. Prepared by the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and released by the Office of the Governor, this annual report celebrates forward momentum on important projects and collaborations while acknowledging work yet to be done.

The 2017 report, released in mid-January 2018, highlights several Michigan Sea Grant projects and partners. Open the report to read about:

  • Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Mary Bohling on the importance of citizens getting involved in water protection efforts (page 12).
  • A new training course for local government officials seeking to learn about water policy and best management practices (page 14).
  • Efforts to preserve Great Lakes fishing heritage at the Besser Museum in Alpena (page 20).

“Fish Guts” makes a splash on the big screen

As invasive species alter the Great Lakes food web, predators are changing their feeding habits. The Michigan State University-led Huron-Michigan Diet Study is encouraging anglers to contribute stomachs from all types of predatory fish caught in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. Collection is planned to continue through the 2019 fishing season.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension educator Dan O’Keefe and filmmaker Zachary Barnes, a senior at MSU, created an informational video on the study in order to teach proper stomach removal procedures. “Fish Guts” was recently screened as part of the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary International Film Festival.

“It was great to have our film screened and to get the message out about the study to such a diverse audience,” O’Keefe says. Each year, the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary bring the world of cinema to Alpena. Entries include ocean and Great Lakes films from around the world. Film screenings are complemented by social events, educational activities, and opportunities to meet filmmakers. “I got to see some of the greatest environmental films from the past year, including one produced by Patagonia,” says Barnes.

Want to be a part of the diet study project? Here are two ways to participate:

  • Collect fish stomachs (watch the video for instructions)
  • Donate to help hire students to analyze the data.

Learn more about the diet study here.

Michigan’s Knauss fellows dive into a year at NOAA

Lisa explored Washington, D.C., and visited the Department of Commerce. Photo: Lisa Peterson

“I have never said — and been told — ‘good luck’ so many times in my life,” recalls Knauss Fellow Lisa Peterson as she reflects on her hectic Placement Week. One of two Knauss fellows from Michigan, Lisa introduces herself and describes her placement experience in a recent post on the Michigan Sea Grant fellowship blog.

Lisa and her fellow Michigan Knauss participant Janet Hsiao began their fellowships earlier this month. Lisa joins the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service in the Office of Science and Technology as the fisheries electronic technologies coordinator. Janet is the ocean observing fellow with the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in the Climate Program Office. Follow their fellowship journeys through upcoming blog posts.

Clean Marina Classroom Live encourages marinas to sail toward Clean Marina status

The Michigan Clean Marina Program encourages environmentally friendly marina design and boating practices. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

The Michigan Clean Marina Program is pleased to announce that our online classroom is going on the road this spring. Michigan Sea Grant staff and Clean Marina certification specialists will conduct several in-person workshops on classroom lessons and best practices of the Clean Marina program.

One workshop will be held at the Petoskey Winter Sports Park on March 14, 2018. A southeast workshop will be at the Lake St. Clair Metropark Thomas Welsh Activity Center on March 27, 2018. A third workshop will be held at Northside Marina in South Haven on April 4, 2018.

Before the boats are unwrapped and operators are flooded with calls for slip leases, the Clean Marina Program will provide an opportunity for marina staff to learn important best practices, achieve classroom certification, and schedule certification site visits — all in one place, at one time!

Clean Marina Classroom Live participants will work one-on-one with Clean Marina coordinators and certification specialists to learn the classroom’s most important lessons and recommended best practices. In addition, the Michigan Clean Marina Program will solicit honest feedback about the current online classroom and resources, as well as the certification process.

Please see the Michigan Clean Marina Program website for registration details. If your organization is interested in hosting a future workshop, please contact Liz Szlaga, MBIA program coordinator, at lszlaga@mbia.org or Erin De Vries, Michigan Sea Grant program coordinator, at edevries@umich.edu.

Local high school team makes waves at 2018 Great Lakes Bowl 

The Greenhills (A) team celebrates at the Great Lakes Bowl closing ceremony. Photo: Todd Marsee

Take a moment to celebrate the dedication of high schoolers who get up before the crack of dawn to show their love for the oceans and Great Lakes.

On February 3, the University of Michigan’s Dana Building teemed with high school students competing in the 2018 Great Lakes Bowl. This annual event is a regional tournament in the National Ocean Sciences Bowl, an academic competition in which student teams vie to demonstrate their superior knowledge of ocean and Great Lakes biology, chemistry, physics, technology, history, and economics.

Teams from 10 Michigan high schools faced off in a heated trivia tournament, with students from Ann Arbor’s Greenhills School earning first place. The winning students are invited to compete in the national tournament in Boulder, Colorado, in April.

Do you know of a high school that might be interested in joining the National Ocean Sciences Bowl? Michigan Sea Grant is happy to help. We can provide resources and training advice for teachers or parents looking to start a team, and now is a great time to start planning. For more information, contact nosb-great-lakes-bowl@umich.edu.

Upcoming events

Do you like to swim, paddle, bike, hike, camp, surf, bird-watch, or fish? Come join fellow enthusiasts at the 2018 Quiet Water Symposium on March 3 in East Lansing. Learn about everything from preparing healthy camping meals to exploring Michigan’s wilderness areas by canoe — and so much more. Be sure to stop by Michigan Sea Grant’s booth and say hello! Learn more: quietwatersociety.org

Learn about Great Lakes ice cover, new invasive species, and how poop-sniffing dogs help keep beaches healthy — all at the March 6 Great Lakes Conference at Michigan State University. Teachers who attend may qualify for a stipend; check out Michigan Sea Grant Extension Educator Steve Stewart’s article for details. Register for the day-long conference or find more information at: Great Lakes Conference site

Registration is now open for the 2018 National Working Waterfronts and Waterways Symposium! The symposium provides a forum for stakeholders from across the nation to connect and showcase innovative, successful, and timely solutions to waterfront and waterway issues. Michigan Sea Grant will host the 2018 symposium in Grand Rapids on May 14-17. Find more information and registration details at: www.nationalworkingwaterfronts.com

Learn and share the latest fishery science and management updates for your favorite Great Lakes waters. Watch Michigan Sea Grant’s events calendar for upcoming regional fishery workshops later this spring.

From Extension

Michigan Sea Grant Extension educators write informative articles about a variety of subjects — from citizen science to tips for staying safe on a wintery shoreline. Below are some of their articles from the past few months.

Teachers: Think spring and register for the 2018 Great Lakes Education Program

By Steve Stewart

Award-winning program advances Great Lakes literacy and stewardship among K-12 students.

Read more

Students find winter is a perfect time to prepare for spring garden project

By Brandon Schroeder

Alcona first-grade students prepare for library pollinator garden.

Read more

I’m a citizen scientist. What happens to my water quality monitoring data?

By Heather Triezenberg

Citizen scientists collect valuable data used by researchers, policy makers, and natural resource managers.

Read more

Great Lakes waves can make lake viewing dangerous

By Elliot Nelson

Don’t get swept away this winter while sightseeing near the Great Lakes.

Read more

When it comes to water resources, can one person make a difference?

By Mary Bohling

Whether working alone or with others, taking action can help your watershed.

Read more